Armin van Buuren releases ‘Intense,’ pushes past confines of average trance albums
With no shortage of landmarks behind him and reputation for cutting quality albums throughout his long serving career, Dutch trance icon Armin Van Buuren has stepped to the mark with fifth artist album Intense to test the preservation of his craft once again. Even after selling out Madison Square Garden and showing no signs of slowing down his presence on the summer festival for circuit for 2013, this cultural minefield was certain to meet the follow-up to 2011’s Mirage with apprehensive eyes.
For a man whose consistent evolution has been matched with seals of approval from royalty and popular culture alike, album number five held a ton of industrious vigor to match against a playbook on leaps and bounds for euphoric dance music. Three-years in the making and liberally premiered during Armin’s sell-out romp of Madison Square Garden, Intense is unquestionably poised towards breaking way for the boundaries of electronic music. Where the everyman expects trance, Armin ploys mercilessly into musical and instrumental influences from across the musical spectrum. To tune of a stunning title-track alongside Israeli violinist Miri-ben-Ari, the boundaries once drawn between electronic music wear positively thin, whilst casting room for tracks such as “Sounds of the Drums” to test the waters with an epic schematic for the modern age club anthem.
For all the versatile composition, “Who’s Afraid of 138”, “Last Stop Before Heaven” and “Love Never Came” are surefire favorites among those more acquainted with the long serving genre – proving promising asset in the wake of the pop-savvy album lead “This Is What It Feels Like.” But long gone are the days of stalwart members of electronic music’s global elite and in Armin’s ability to lap up radio-friendly influences, we find the portrait of an artist whose reign upon club land has never been greater. The transition in sound between “Won’t Let You Go”, “Turn This Love Around” and coming-of-age crossover “Pulsar” reign testament to the fact that amid his rise to iconic prevalence, something inexplicably universal in Armin’s work remains.
For outright genre-buffs, long serving fans, and those in search of industry shattering musical developments, Intense is unlikely to be music to the ears. But amid the year that has ended many folks skepticism towards the album platform, Intense is an inspirational journey in sound from an well-oiled asset to a generation of EDM idolism and stagnant creative landscapes. Trance may not have reached the prolific heights of its more popular modern alternatives, but Intense shapes up to be a pretty approximate insight into creative stamina still available at the top end of the industry table.